Engineers' Week 2023 theme celebrates 120th anniversary with eye on the future

March 20, 2023

Aerial image of Jesse Hall with green dome.
Engineers’ Week is signified by Jesse Hall’s green dome.

Engineers’ Week went “Pat to the Future” this year, a nod to both the 120th anniversary and a new era of innovation at Mizzou Engineering.

E-Week is a celebration of all things engineering. It began at Mizzou in 1903 when engineering students first “discovered” that St. Patrick was an engineer. Needing an excuse to take a break from rigorous academics, students left campus for a downtown celebration — a St. Patrick’s Day parade of sorts that has since spread to engineering colleges across the country.

Today, Mizzou students continue to honor century-old traditions over nine days, while also celebrating engineering research — including studies around the drones, wearable technologies and flying cars predicted in the Back to the Future films nearly 40 years ago.

Scroll down to travel with us back through the highlights of E-Week 2023.

Group of Mizzou Engineering alum ni
Alumni pose with Steve Borgelt, E-Week faculty advisor and associate professor emeritus, and Tami Beatty, a long-time engineering academic advisor.

The celebration kicked off with the Cheers to Engineers Alumni Happy Hour at The Heidelberg. The event brings together multiple generations of Mizzou Engineering alumni and the E-Week king and queen candidates.

Group of E-Week king and queen candidates
E-Week King and Queen candidates left to right: Alex Boren, nominated by Omega Chi Epsilon; Katie Bagley, nominated by the Society of Women Engineers; Trenton Foster, nominated by the National Society of Black Engineers; Natalie Camilleri, nominated by the Society of Women Engineers; Tyler Schuster, nominated by the Mizzou Engineering Student Council; Kyarra Gorham, nominated by the National Society of Black Engineers; Timothy Healy, nominated by the Mizzou Engineering Student Council; Jordan Hayes, nominated by the Mizzou Engineering Student Council; Andrew Luebbert, nominated by the Engineering Ambassadors; Sophie Mermelstein, nominated by Pi Beta Phi.

Marty McFly had his “Doc,” we have ours. Beloved Professor Dave Wollersheim—known to many as “Doc” — was the man of the hour on March 10, celebrating the fully funded Dave Wollersheim Professorship in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at a reception before joining fellow alumni at the happy hour.

Dave Wollersheim and Jeff Biskup
Dave “Doc” Wollersheim with Jeff Biskup, BS ME ’79.

Crowds of alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends gathered on Francis Quadrangle and Shamrock Plaza to watch as Doc Wollersheim flipped the switch, casting a green light across central campus.

Students serve food at outside station.
St. Pat’s Board members served chicken and fries to event attendees
Crowd of people on the Quad.
A large crowd of people eagerly awaited the dome lighting

“Today marks the 34th year that Jesse Hall’s dome will shine green across the MU’s campus for Engineers’ Week,” said Lane Atchison, Engineers’ Week co-chair. He and Kate Sherard, co-chair of Engineers’ Week, set the stage for the dome lighting by returning to the history of Mizzou E-Week.

Lane Atchison speaks into a microphone.
E-Week Chairs Kate Sherard (left) and Lane Atchison (right) presenting at the Dome Lighting

“The green lighting of Jesse Hall’s dome has become a beacon for MU Engineering,” Sherard said. “It signals the arrival of Engineers’ Week and the annual return of St. Patrick, and reflecting the engineers’ proud history of enlightening Mizzou.”

Jesse Hal dome lit green.
The dome of Jesse Hall turns green to signify the start of E-Week.

Dr. Emmett Brown may not have needed roads where he was going, but they were key for engineering students navigating Columbia during the Road Rally scavenger hunt on Saturday, March 11. The following day, students, alumni and friends took tot he sidewalks for a 5K/10K Walk, Run and Roll. A partnership with the College of Arts & Science, the 5K/10K doubled as a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity.

Crowd of people in front of building.
E-Week 5K/10K participants line up outside of Lafferre Hall during the 5K/10K Walk, Run, Roll.
Photo of Roger Fales running on sidewalk.
Roger Fales, associate dean of student services and academic programs, completes the run.

Cold temperatures and a few snow flurries on Monday of E-Week didn’t stop students from enjoying hot dogs during the Hot Dog Banquet, a picnic outside of Lafferre Hall on Monday afternoon.

Student in a hot dog costume serves hot dogs.
St. Pat’s Board members got into the hot dog spirit to serve lunch to students, faculty and staff.

One of the most anticipated days of E-Week is Lab Exhibits, when hundreds of elementary, middle and high school students visit Lafferre Hall to explore the awesome applications of engineering. This year, they experienced virtual and mixed realities, saw the Mizzou Formula SAE car and learned about different types of chemicals and materials.

Woman in a lab coat demonstrates chemical reactions using produce.
Mizzou Engineers demonstrate chemical reactions during Lab Exhibits.
Crowd of young students watch as another student wears a VR headset.
Students learn about virtual, augmented and mixed reality during Lab Exhibits.

When they weren’t teaching younger students about engineering, Mizzou Engineers were learning from alumni. Professor for a Day brings in industry leaders to talk to students about how they’ll apply their studies in the workplace.

This year, guests came from companies including Microsoft, World Wide Technology, Boeing, Procter & Gamble, ARCO Construction and the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Photo of Steve Pelch talking to students in a computer lab.
Steve Pelch, chief operating officer at World Wide Technologies, speaks to students in an environmental hydrology course.
Photo of Travis Neely talking to students.
Travis Neely, a software engineer at Microsoft, talks to students in a cloud computing course.

St. Patrick himself made an appearance on March 17 to recognize the hard work of senior engineering students and honorary guests. The Knighting Ceremony and Grand Kowtow are traditions dating back to the early 1900s.

Students and St. Patrick at the Knighting Ceremony
St. Patrick joins E-Week Co-Chairs Kate Sherard and Lane Atchison as they prepare to knight seniors and honorary guests.

On Saturday, students gathered to celebrate women in engineering at the Ada Wilson Green Tea Lecture. This year’s speaker was Evelyn Watson, BS EE ’04, director of continuous improvement at Perdue Farms and a member of the College’s IDE Alumni Advisory Council. The event is named after Ada Wilson, Mizzou’s first female engineering graduate.

Group of women
Evelyn Watson, BS EE ’04, center, and Associate Professor Kate Trauth, right, with seniors and members of SWE.
Three women talk at Chancellor's Residence
Following the lecture, students enjoyed tea, lunch and conversation at the Chancellor’s Residence.

Engineers’ Week wraps up with the St. Patrick’s Ball featuring dinner, dancing and the crowning of a queen and king. The ball is one of the oldest E-Week traditions, dating back to 1905. This year’s Engineers’ Week King and Queen are Trenton Foster and Kyarra Gorham.

E-Week king and queen
Congratulations to the 2023 Engineers’ Week King and Queen, Trenton Foster and Kyarra Gorham!

Want to enjoy traditions of the past while researching emerging technologies? Visit campus to explore engineering programs and labs, and plan to be a part of Engineers’ Week 2024. To the future!